What Is The One Common Element You’ve Seen In Successful VC’s?

Here’s a question from the dustbin as I try to clear out my backlog of old, neglected questions.

Q: What is the one common element you’ve seen in successful VC’s?

A: (Brad) This is an easy one.  Before the snarky ones in the crowd answer “nothing”, I’d suggest that its “optimism.”  I have yet to meet a successful VC that isn’t optimistic about the future and the companies he is involved in.  I particularly like the Wikipedia description of optimism, which is “the overarching mental state wherein people believe that things will more likely go well for them than go badly.”

  • Seems like the optimism may be a result of success rather than a cause!

  • I think you need to frame the question better first, based on who is asking the question.
    If by “successful” you mean financial returns to the Limited Partners, you might get a very different answer than if you defined “success” to mean financial returns to the management and pre-VC investors.
    There is so much financial engineering in term sheets these days with VCs stacking the deck against every other stakeholder in the company, that unless you hit a Google, the cupboard can end up pretty bare. There’s a lot of mid-pack deals where only the VCs make money.
    That’s “successful” and their investors love them, and you soon find yourself negotiating with “Fund IV” or something.
    Maybe that’s as it should be, but it might not be the answer to the question the entrepreneur was asking.